We’ve all been told that we have a guardian angel. You know how it goes, an angel that was chosen to look after you from the day you were born. A narrow miss of a car accident, well, that was your guardian angel intervening. What you didn’t know is that there is someone else assigned to look after you too. If angels exist that means demons do as well. They don’t call themselves “guardian demons”, that’s just silly, but they are demons and their motivations are very different from their angelic counterpart. They’re the ones that cause bad things to happen. A green light suddenly turns red and you have to slam on the brakes to avoid a crash, oh that’s them just having some fun.
Neither angel or demon can control your lives, everyone has free will of course, but they can influence you. If cartoons have taught us one thing it’s that you have an angel and a devil on both of your shoulders; you’re picturing it right? It’s a mini version of you, the angel in a white robe with a glowing halo and wings who pleads for you to do the right thing and the devil, in all red with horns and a tail, pitchfork in hand that persuades you to go off track. Not everyone believes in angels and demons, some people call this your conscience, or maybe it’s just a gut instinct.
Nevertheless, whether you chose to believe in angels and demons they exist and both of them have agendas. The angel wants you to make good choices and be a good person. In the end you would go to Heaven and become an angel yourself, guiding a new life on their journey. The demon wants you to break laws, hurt someone, hurt yourself even. You’d be sent straight to Hell where you’d endure a lifetime of torture. Well, that’s not entirely true. You could end the torture as long as you became a demon and influenced others to do harm.
You were lucky that you didn’t know the truth of the world. You were always questioning everything. Did you believe in God because you wanted to or because you grew up being told you have to? Did you believe in the pearly gates of Heaven because it sounds better than just ceasing to exist? Did you believe you should live a virtuous life just to avoid the fiery pits of Hell? You didn’t have the answers and you figured you never really would. You are just human after all.
There’s a lot that goes into being human, we’re talking more than paying your taxes. What it really means to be human is to feel. Emotions, those are what made life tough. Love is such a strong emotion. You wanted to love everything. You loved your family and friends. You smiled at animals on the street– dogs, cats, pigeons and squirrels, you loved them all. You loved the laughter of children. You loved how people united after a tragedy, lifting each other up and selflessly helping in any way they could. You love Disney and the fairy tale stories you grew up believing in. You love love.
Then there’s hate, which seems to be even stronger sometimes. People just get on your nerves. You hate that animals are abandoned and abused. Will someone shut that crying baby up?? You hate how people exploit others; chaos at a peace rally… yeah that’s a good one. You hate this world, everything is upside down. Racism, sexism, homophobia, dammit you could go on forever. People hurt each other all the time and you hate it.
Sometimes you even hate yourself. You hate your looks, always comparing yourself to someone else. You hate your job, always thinking you aren’t doing what you truly want. You hate your failed relationships, constantly thinking about how it all went wrong and if you could just go back and change something you did maybe it would have lasted. Real life isn’t a Disney movie though. You hate love.
You’ve thought about leaving this world, maybe not being here would be easier. You wouldn’t have to deal with the stress of whatever was going to happen. You thought about it and you cried, a lot. A lump catches in your throat as tears stream down your face. You let them drop, pooling under your chin before wiping them away. You can’t do it. Maybe it’s your guardian angel begging you not to, the angel on your shoulder jumping up and down telling you how much you’re loved and how much your life matters or maybe you’re just too scared. You don’t want to die but you don’t want to live either.
Your guardian angel sighs in relief, watching over you as you slept, so thankful that you’re alive. He loves you. He’s loved you since the day you were born. A new life coming into this great big world, a life he promised to guide and protect. He thinks about the time he was alive.
He was born many years ago on Independence Day, a fitting day for a man as patriotic and righteous as Steve Rogers. He was a scrawny kid but never backed down from a fight, especially if it meant standing up for what’s right. He eventually grew into his body, served his country, and gave his life for it in the war. He hangs his head low today with Nazis running around, again! He takes it in stride, devoting even more time guiding those to stand up to the injustice in the world.
Steve knows there’s goodness in you, and he knows that sometimes you stumble. You hurt yourself most being your own worst critic, constantly berating yourself for things you should have done. Steve tries to show you the goodness in life. A family of ducks waddle across the grass and you smile, that is until someone comes by with their large dog, letting them purposely chase after the now scattered group. You stop to watch a honeybee, dedicated in its task to pollinate the garden before you. Then you’re reminded of the worldwide devastation to the bees. Steve groans in frustration, knowing the counteractive measures were being orchestrated by a demon, the monster waiting in the shadows trying to corrupt you.
The demon was just as frustrated. That righteous angel was working so hard, encouraging you, no matter what the situation, to never back down. You stood up to people, to bullies. It was oddly familiar. Today the demon is smirking. You have plans to go clothes shopping with your friend Keisha. This is too easy for him.
“Come out Y/N. Let me see,” Keisha talks to you through the fitting room doors.
You stare at yourself in the mirror, the shirt you tried on was bunching on the sides. You tried pulling it down to cover the hips you hated but no, it doesn’t stay. It doesn’t fit right. Nothing fits right. Nothing ever does. Why are you like this? You feel the sting of tears rush to your eyes.
Taking a deep breath you pull it over your head, closing your eyes so don’t have to look at your reflection. You quickly put on your shirt and gather your things. Opening the door you see Keisha wearing the slight look of disappointment on her face.
“It didn’t fit,” you said quickly, hoping she would drop the subject.
“Everything in this store runs small, let’s try a different size.”
“Kei, the problem isn’t the clothes, it’s me. It’s this,” you gestured towards yourself.
She held back for a second, seeing the redness in your eyes, but continued anyway. She knew what she was about to say would make you cry as this has always been a sore subject, but she trusted her gut (or whatever she believed in) and said it anyway. “Y/N you’re beautiful, no matter what okay. You may not love your body but just know there is so much more to you than that. You’re beautiful inside and out.”
The tears fall as you wipe them off your cheek. You know she means well it’s just, all those bad thoughts you have are turned up to 1,000 when it comes to your body. She pulls you in for a tight hug. You smile, knowing she’s right. Your worth isn’t determined by your weight. You know this.
Damn her, the demon thought of Keisha. What can he do now? What can he do to turn your thoughts around?
Suddenly, a beautiful leggy brunette walks into the fitting room. She glances down at your tear stained face, you hear her laugh as she closes the door. No matter what you want to believe the truth is everyone is judged on their appearance. You quickly walk out of the dressing room, feeling defeated.
“Listen Y/N you don’t look like that chick, I don’t look like that chick, but despite what you think she’s not perfect. Nobody is.”
“I know, it’s just hard sometimes, you know?” You try to smile, forming a tight lipped frown instead.
“Yeah it’s hard, but life is short and you need to enjoy it. Winnie the Pooh wears a belly shirt and he doesn’t care.”
Her comment breaks your sullen face. “So you want me to be like Winnie the Pooh? Walking around with a jar of honey and no pants?” you joked.
“Winnie,” the demon hesitantly spoke, turning his head up as if he’s heard that name before.
“Yeah go hard or go home!” she laughed, pulling you in for another hug.
You stopped into Starbucks, to satisfy your need for overpriced coffee. Casually strolling through the mall you found some comfortable chairs to sit down in.
“So how come I haven’t met your girlfriend yet?” you asked, tilted your head and smiling as Keisha began to blush.
“I know, I know! Let’s plan something soon, dinner? Lunch? It doesn’t matter. She’s great Y/N. I can’t wait for you to meet her.”
You asked what her name was and she told you as she smiled from ear to ear.
The demon felt a twinge in his mind as the name was spoken. “Rebecca.” He repeated the name over and over, ignoring all of the things he could be doing to ruin your day. He knew this name. Why did he know this? Who was she? The thoughts clawed at his mind, like a caged animal trying to break free.
“Oh-em-gee, you have the cutest couple name, Bec-kei! Do you get it?” you laughed. You found it a lot funnier than Keisha did but she laughed all the same, being well accustomed to your silly sense of humor.
The demon froze, stunned in silence. The beast was loose, running around in his mind, violently thrashing as it broke down the walls of a dam. Memories returned, flowing, gushing through his mind.
“B-buh…Bucky. My name is Bucky.”
If his heart could still skip a beat it certainly would have. You had unlocked the door in his mind that had been shut for so long. The memories overwhelmed him, bits and pieces of a puzzle scattered on the floor waiting to be put together. He started slowly with his name. Bucky. He repeated it over and over again, furrowing his brows together with frustration.
“There’s more. Bucky… urgh!” he huffed, pressing the heel of his palms into his eyes. He sounded out different letters until he thought he found the right one.
“G-George. No, James. James… Barnes. George was my father,” he said slowly connecting the pieces.
He pictured a man, with striking blue eyes and dark brown hair that peeked out from under a flat-topped straw hat. His cream buttoned down shirt was tucked into brown trousers, cuffed at the bottom to display his oxford shoes. Bucky smiled remembering his father, caring and selfless, who would always give up his last dollar to anyone that needed it. He was a hard working man who loved his wife Winifred. “Winnie, darling!” he would say, coming through the front door of their humble home.
George worked long hours as a banker but during the weekends he was a true family man. He took James and his younger sister Rebecca to the park. He watched James play baseball with some local boys, smiling at the nickname they gave his son as they eagerly called Bucky up to bat. Rebecca rode a merry-go-round, waving to her father each time her wooden horse passed the bench he sat on. He loved his family with all of heart. The accident that took his life was tragic, and Bucky never felt worthy enough to fill the large void left in its wake.
His country needed him during the war, there was no question but Bucky hated the idea of leaving his mother and sister. He wrote to them when he could during training and was lucky enough to receive their letters when he was overseas.
He slid down the wall, unseen by the humans that casually pass him by, as the horrors of the war replayed in his mind. Then he remembered the explosion on the cliffside and his biggest regret, living. He fell, hitting the snow covered ground with a huge thud. Every bone was surely broken, he groaned in agony and yet he felt numb. Hot tears stung his eyes as thought about his mom and Rebecca. He didn’t want to leave them, he was the man of the house, he needed to protect them. But there was nothing he could do except shut his eyes and wait for death to take him.
A blurred figure came towards him, calling out his name. A fellow soldier? No, it was an older man with a wrinkled face and dusty blond hair. “Bucky.” His smooth voice kept him from slipping out of consciousness. “Bucky, I’m here to help you.”
The man introduced himself as Alexander, Bucky’s spiritual guardian.
“My wh-what?” Bucky’s weak voice murmured.
Alexander offered to save him, heal him enough to go home so he can see his family as long as he promised to work with him as a guardian when the time comes. Confused and close to death Bucky accepted the man’s offer as his eyes shut.
Bucky woke up, groaning as his body bounced with every step the men who were carrying him on a stretcher took. “You’re lucky to be alive, soldier!” he heard a voice say before slipping unconscious again.
Sometime later he opened his eyes, recognizing he was in the medical tent of the barracks. He groaned feeling a terrible ache throughout his body, which was expected after his tremendous fall, except he felt different. His eyes widened with horror seeing the absence of his left arm. A medic heard the commotion and rushed over to him, explaining that his arm was lost from the explosion. He looked down to see a small stump wrapped in gauze, just a few inches remained of his once strong arm. His injury would be sending him home though as soon as the papers were processed.
Bucky reflected on his thoughts, vaguely remembering the man, his guardian, who promised him a chance to see his family again. He didn’t realize the cost, nevertheless he was happy, he served his country honorably and he was headed home with a smile on his face.
Winifred sobbed mixed tears of joy and sadness as her son walked through the door. She was prepared for his injury but it didn’t take away the pain she felt for her boy.
“Son!” she cried, sobbing into his chest. Bucky wrapped his right arm around her back, “Ma! It’s okay. I’m okay,” he said hoping his words would alleviate her woes.
Winifred took him into the kitchen, having prepared a casserole, after a long time away she needed to make sure her son was well fed again. Bucky missed her cooking, even with the restrictions from food rationing, she was always able to turn anything into a delicious filling meal.
She sat beside Bucky tending to his every need, refilling his glass before it was half empty, wiping food from the corner of his mouth. Bucky held his tongue, just because he lost an arm didn’t mean he couldn’t take care of himself, but he let his mother take care of him; she almost lost her son after all.
Rebecca came home a few hours later looking unrecognizable from the last time Bucky saw her. Her hair usually styled with intricate curls was covered in a dusty headscarf, her dress was traded for faded blue coveralls. She had taken up work in a local factory, like most of the women in the country who took over the jobs of the men who left to fight.
Her face lit up when she saw him, with a bittersweet smile tugging on her lips as she noticed the flat empty sleeve on the left side of his jacket.
She was happy to have him home, they were all happy to be together again.
Later that night after their mother had gone to sleep Bucky and Rebecca were able to speak frankly. His heart felt heavy, wiping tears away as he relived the terrible things the war required him to do. Bucky told her mostly everything, only sparing her from the gruesome details he did not want his little sister to imagine. He also left out the part of the man, Alexander, the supposed guardian that saved his life, though he was half convinced this was a hallucination.
Bucky pushed open the door of his bedroom and gasped, not expecting to see the figure standing there waiting for him. His jaw hung open as he stared at Alexander who was very much real. He was a few inches shorter than Bucky but stood with towering confidence. “Surprised to see me?” he asked.
Bucky nodded, unsure of what words to say as he tried to quickly accept the existence of his spiritual guardian.
“About the arm,” he nudged his chin towards Bucky, “It was the best way to get you home.”
Bucky cleared his throat before speaking, “Uh yeah, thanks, thank you. I’m just glad to be here.” He tripped on his words, smiling quickly before returning to his nonplussed state.
“How’s mom? She good?” Alexander asked with a curt undertone. Bucky nodded in response. “And sister?” A chill ran down Bucky’s back and he shivered before silently nodding again.
“That’s good. I’m sure you said goodbye then.”
Bucky’s face twisted in confusion, “I- I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Alexander’s lips pulled up into a wide devilish smile. “Our deal boy. The time has come.”
Bucky sputtered out words, trying to reason with that he’s been home for less than a week. Alexander didn’t care, though he never stated the full terms of his agreement Bucky never asked. He accepted his help and he was quickly learning that his actions had consequences.
“Kill yourself,” Alexander snarled, smirking.
Bucky felt disgusted by his words, he refused. He could never.
Alexander cocked his head, closing the gap between himself and Bucky. His smile dropped, “Your mother and sister are on a train right now,” he calmly stated.
Bucky shook his head in confusion, “What does that mean?”
“I’m a man of great influence and power,” he spat, popping the sound the word he took so much pleasure from.“They are sitting in the first car and when I derail the train they will die, painfully so,” he smirked, “Unless…” he threatened.
Bucky felt nauseous, the thought of his family dying burned a deep pit within his stomach. “I thought you were my guardian angel,” he naively questioned.
Alexander dropped his head back and laughed with a twisted sense of delight. He turned towards Bucky revealing his eyes, now covered by a deep blackness that replaced any trace of humanity he once appeared to have. “I’m far from angel.”
He raised his hands up and the furniture in Bucky’s room began to shake. The desk broke in half, with all objects once neatly displayed sliding towards the center, the dresser toppled over, photographs dropped from their place on the wall. Bucky jumped out of the way as his closet door opened, his clothes were violently strewn across the room. He could not believe what he was seeing.
Alexander looked at a mirror and it shattered, its jagged pieces fell to the ground in front of Bucky. “You know what to do.”
Bucky bent down, apprehensively picking up the shard of glass. His teary eyes pleaded with Alexander but he showed no signs of faltering.
“What happens if I do this?” his shaky voice asked. “Th-they’ll be safe? No tricks?”
“They won’t be harmed. I’m a man of my word. You do this and then you work for me. Go on son.”
Bucky shut his eyes not wanting to face Alexander. Son, the word stung in his mind. Bucky thought about his father, the honorable and good man. Would he do this? No, his father was a better man. He wouldn’t have made a deal with the devil. That’s what Alexander had to be. George would have seen through something that was too good to be true, he would have died with honor on that blanket of snow. All Bucky wanted was to see his family again, to protect them. Now he was left with a horrible choice and no way out. He had to save them, the family that would forever be plagued with unanswered questions. Why? Why did he do this?
Bucky choked on a lump in his throat as the tears traveled down his cheeks. He gripped the shard, feeling the sting of glass cutting into his hand. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, knowing the people who needed to hear his words never would. He brought the shard to his neck while Alexander watched.
Bucky woke up on the hard ground, looking around he saw nothing, just blackness that felt like it was slowly creeping towards him despite his vast surroundings. There was a cold chill that blew through him yet he choked on the air, heavy with humidity making it difficult to breathe. Wait, could he even breathe?
He was alone and scared. He sat bringing his knees to his chest, going through the motions of crying without being able to shed tears, as he regretted the choices he made from the life he’ll never get back. Alexander appeared in front of him, pulling Bucky to his feet.
“You work for me now,” he spat. “And my soldiers aren’t weak.”
“Soldiers?” Bucky questioned, “Alexander, I…”
He was cut off again. “You call me Pierce and I am not to be questioned. I’m not your friend. I own you. You’re gonna go up there and corrupt souls. Manipulate people, like I did to you,” he said with a sinister smile.
Bucky tried resisting at first, thinking since he was already dead that no more harm could come to him but he was wrong. Pierce brought in his trusted associate, a man formerly known as Brock Rumlow.
Rumlow was a twisted from an early age, torturing animals, slicing them open just to see what would happen. He became a surgeon, determined by his sickness to hurt people. It wasn’t enough for him to perform the surgery he was required to do. He lied to his patients, telling them the procedures he performed were life saving and necessary just so he could mutilate them.
He found a like minded assistant, Grant Ward, and together they abused countless victims. Operating without anesthesia, the relished in the sounds of screams as they experimented removing body parts, or attaching foreign objects within. Then men were caught and executed but they continue their work now as demon’s with Pierce’s full support.
Bucky had learned more about Pierce, the devil’s right hand man, a powerful demon who was building an army with plans to fight the angels in Heaven.
With the snap of his fingers Pierce made it possible for Bucky to experience pain again. Rumlow smiled as he began his torture. Minutes felt like years, years felt like centuries. Bucky had felt immeasurable amounts of pain. He tried not to scream knowing each time he did it only fueled Rumlow’s enthusiasm. He was carved with every tool imaginable, grinding his teeth as he felt the sting of each slice, only to have his body healed and prepped for the next round of torture.
Rumlow was fascinated by Bucky’s arm. He opened him up, removing what was left of his bone and replacing it with different objects. He settled on a metal arm, cast from the armor of a great demon, once a rogue knight who slayed countless villages during the Middle Ages.
Bucky knew how to end the torture, he held out for so long but he was weak, physically and mentally. He felt broken and so he conceded, accepting his fate. He hated himself for giving up. He carried out Pierce’s orders, being assigned to a variety of people all over the world; it didn’t matter who they were, only that they be influenced negatively to corrupt their souls.
One day Bucky was assigned to a new mother. He reluctantly went to the hospital with the intent on whispering thoughts to induce postpartum depression. He materialized in the hospital room, pushing past the flowers and balloons, not making himself known to the happy people who crowded around the woman. He stopped in shock as he saw his sister holding a baby swaddled in blue cloth.
“James, after my brother,” Rebecca said. “James Barnes-Proctor.” She wiped tears away as she smiled lovingly at her son. Bucky stood there in shock, seeing his sister and the man he assumed was her husband caressing the forehead of the sleeping infant. He scanned the room for his mother but she wasn’t there. He wanted to stay, to talk to Rebecca and tell her everything but he knew he couldn’t.
He left feeling determined, feeling strong like the man he should have been. He refused to do this any longer, resolving that he would rather be tortured for eternity than hurt anyone else. Pierce blinked a few times, silent in response to Bucky’s defiance. He simply smiled, snapping his fingers as a cloud of black smoke wrapped itself around Bucky. He struggled against the force of energy but wasn’t able to break free. The black cloud entered through his ears and fogged up his mind. Pierce locked away Bucky’s memories, wiping him to create the perfect demon, brainwashing him into fighting for his cause without disobedience. A soldier once again, ready for orders.
Bucky struggled to lift his heavy head, weighed down by all of his memories, guilt and pain. He wiped away fresh tears as he looked around. You had left, a while ago it seemed. Bucky wanted to find you. He wanted to undo some of the damage he’s done. Thanks to you he remembered who he was, he needed to do some good for a lot of people but he wanted to start with you. He tasted the salt on his lips before realizing the unfamiliar sense. How was he able to cry?
His thoughts were interrupted by the image of Pierce calling him back. Bucky wiped his eyes again, bringing his expression back to something neutral as he faced Pierce.
Bucky was silent for a moment before repeating the list of horrible things he’s done in order to break people. He kept up his facade as the ruthless soldier Pierce had created, not letting on that he had broken free of his spell for his own safety and yours.
“I see Mr. Wilson has been teetering on the edge. Use his guilt about his friend,” Pierce ordered. Bucky fought back his anger. He was angry with Pierce for forcing him to be someone he’s not, he was angry with himself for doing such terrible things to innocent people.
“Good job with Y/N, sending that other girl into the dressing room. How close is she? How broken?”
Bucky clenched his fist, biting the inside of his cheek as Pierce spoke about you with such indifference. He wasn’t going to let you become broken. He vowed to make up for the pain he caused you.
“She’s strong,” Bucky said, unable to hold back a smirk.
You were strong, you made it past every negative thought and situation Bucky aided in putting you through but you still made it. You never gave in and Bucky was going to make sure that you never would.
“We need strong. Work harder on her, bring her to us,” Pierce demanded.
Bucky nodded and Pierce dismissed him.
Back on Earth Bucky watched you again, just as he had done many times before but this time it’s different. Instead of scheming for ways to enhance your depressing thoughts he watched you, and for the first time he truly saw you.
The partially clouded sun shines its diffused light on the alleyway of your apartment building. With a tote bag in hand you softly creep towards the back wall, pursing your lips together to create soft kissing sounds. Opening your bag you pull out a few cans of cat food, the noise of the lid pulling open draws out the strays you’ve come to look after.
A black cat comes out, curling himself around your legs before nudging his head on your hand, a sign you’ve learned to interpret as him encouraging you to hurry up and feed him.
“Okay okay, Midnight here you go,” you said setting down the food.
Opening another can a smaller cat comes out, a slim black and white you’ve named Oreo. Leaving the cats to their food you opened another can, setting it behind the dumpster in front of a very lazy and round white and brown cat you’ve aptly named Potato. Based on his size you question if Potato is even a stray. You retrieve a few plastic takeout containers that have moved around, replacing it them with fresh water and dry cat food.
With your back against the brick wall of the building you happily watch the cats eat. Bucky feels a painful stinging sensation overtake his body, his fists clench as he fights his instinct that compels him to remind you that these cats are homeless. Instead he silently watches as Oreo curls up next to you, purring and meowing as you scratch under her chin.
Bucky feels a tight pull in his cheeks from a smile that formed. It’s such a foreign sensation it hurts but he continues doing it, reminding the neglected muscles of their use. He continues smiling, grinning now from ear to ear as you tease Potato for being too lazy to come out.
The longer Bucky watches you he begins to remember what it was like to be human. He’s overcome by warmth that comforts his normally cold exterior. You’re beautiful. He doesn’t know why you ever doubted yourself, he hates that he amplified any negative thoughts. Your eyes are full of kindness, your smile is so sincere. Your body was perfect in his mind because it was yours. Bucky felt this overwhelming desire to hold you, to wrap his arms around you and tell you that despite what you believe that you’re beautiful and every flaw you think you have is part of what makes you so beautiful. You were a goddess and he wanted to worship you.
Lost in his thoughts Bucky hadn’t noticed that Midnight had walked over towards him, curling in between his legs. Bucky yelped scaring the black cat as he ran back behind the dumpster.
“Hello?” you said, standing up, your body tensed at the stranger.
Bucky stood frozen, wondering how the cat was able to curl around him. Midnight must have run away with his tongue as well because Bucky was unable to speak as you approached him. How could you see him?
“Uh, can I help you?” you sarcastically asked, tilting your head towards him.
Bucky realized his concealment spell had obviously lifted. He cleared his throat, unsure of what he was going to say. “That’s really nice… what you’re doing for them… the cats,” he awkwardly stammered.
“Oh, yeah. Well I have to,” you said. Your body released the tension it was holding as you observed the stranger’s handsome face. “No one else looks after them so…” You shrugged slightly before looking away, feeling the blush begin to creep its way on your cheeks as the man’s clear blue eyes were gazing at you.
Bucky was entranced by you, silently staring with a goofy smile, unaware of how awkward he looked.
“So do you always hang out in alleys or…” you trailed off.
“No, I uh,” Bucky stopped to think about what he would say, reaching his hand up to rub the back of his neck. “I was just walking by when I heard someone.”
You smiled, watching his nervous demeanor, his plush pink lips curved up into a smile. A feeling twinged in your gut unlike anything you had felt before. You were alone with a strange man in an alley but you weren’t nervous. Why weren’t you nervous? You should be, right? Your body seemed to be fighting the natural instincts that were telling you this was dangerous.
“What’s your name?” you asked.
“Bucky,” he yelped, jumping slightly as Midnight returned and began to purr around the base of his legs. You laughed at his reaction.
“Scared of cats Bucky?”
He chuckled, wiping the embarrassment off his face, “No, I’m just not used to this.” He flashed a bright white smile as he slowly crouched towards the ground, letting his right hand hang down. Midnight pressed the top of his head into his palm, rubbing into it and purring. “They usually don’t like me.”
Bucky felt the soft fur against his finger tips, a sensation he’s almost forgotten. Normally animals hissed or barked, and ran away when they sensed the presence of a demon. He ponders why the cats are being so calm around him.
You watched as Bucky pet Midnight with a sweet innocence. He looked up at you, seemingly proud of himself for petting a cat. You’re not sure why he’s so happy but you smile finding it very cute.
“They love me, since I feed them,” you chuckled.
Realizing you hadn’t properly introduced yourself, you offered your name and extended your hand to meet his. Hesitantly, Bucky brought his hand out to yours, the warmth of your hand caused his body to tingle. His mouth pulled into an awkward smile as he hoped you didn’t feel his body shake and he quickly shrugged his hand back into the pocket of his leather jacket.
It dawned on you suddenly that his left hand has been in his pocket during your whole encounter. You worry slightly for the first time, wondering what he may be hiding.
Your boldness outweighed common sense as you asked, “What’s with the hand?” Internally you groan as you spoke in a much ruder tone than intended.
Bucky’s face dropped, eyebrows tilting down and you heard him gulp loudly. His head hung low as he replied, “Y-you don’t want to see.”
You were concerned but intrigued, “Please?”
He sighed, looking up at you through his long lashes as he gingerly pulled his hand out of concealment, revealing a shiny silver surface. You stared at the remarkable appendage before you caught yourself, realizing how uncomfortable you were making him. “I’m sorry Bucky, I didn’t mean to stare,” though you couldn’t help the fact that your gaze darted between his sad eyes and the metal hand. “I’ve just never seen a prosthetic like that before.”
“I’m not used to showing it.” His head hung low still and it reinforced your feelings of regret.
“I’m sorry,” you repeated, in a gentle tone. “Hey, d-do you want to get some coffee?” you asked, with some desperation in your voice.
You felt bad for intruding about his hand and wanted to make it up to him in some way, though deep down you wanted to get to know the mystery behind Bucky, and even deeper down you hoped for a connection. Bucky looked up in confusion, not understanding why you haven’t run away from him.
“Please, let me buy you a cup, okay?”
He couldn’t say no to your bright-eyed insistence, he smiled and agreed. With a wide smile you turned around to gather your things and say goodbye to the cats. You went to Potato, rubbing the soft fur of his plump body, Oreo and Midnight fought for your attention which you gave as equally as you could.
Picking up your bag you took a step towards Bucky but you were blasted with a strong surge of wind. You squinted, lifting your hands in front of your face. The gust was so powerful your feet slid on the ground as you were being pushed back.
Bucky moved forward, reaching out to grab and pull you towards him. The moment your hands touched the wind abruptly stopped but your momentum was still going; you went flying into Bucky’s chest and you both fell down. Bucky wrapped his arms around you holding you tighter to him as he took the brunt of the fall.
You looked down at him, wisps of your hair fell forward as you were a few inches away from his mesmerizing blue eyes. Bucky grunted and you snapped back to reality. “Sorry! I know I’m heavy,” you sadly declared.
Hearing your admission on the topic he knows bothers you most pained him. “No Y/N, you’re not. Y-you’re beautiful.” Bucky tucked your hair behind your ears and your heart raced a little. “You okay?” you panted as you got off of him.
“Yeah I’m fine,” he said as he stood up, brushing off any dirt that might have been on his clothes
“That was so weird! I’ve never been caught in a wind tunnel like that before!” you naively commented.
“Yeah, pretty weird,” he stated as his eyes looked up and all around in suspicion, knowing the exact cause of the sudden weather change.
On the way to the coffee shop you faced many interruptions. Your mom called and it took forever to get her off the phone, despite promising that you’ll call her later. Keisha texted way too many times about wanting to set up dinner with you to meet her girlfriend. Your boss Tony called in a desperate search for a file that was in your office. He even offered to pay you for a half day if you came in to give it to him in person. Despite how enticing that sounded you really wanted to spend your afternoon with Bucky.
“Tony it’s Sunday I’m not coming in. Are you at my desk? Look at my desk, now look at the rack on the left. It’s right there.” You looked at Bucky and mouthed an apology as you waited on the phone again. “You found it, see it didn’t move. Okay… okay… no I really have to… alright, tomorrow, okay… okay see you tomorrow Mr. Stark, bye!” You hung up on him but tried your best to not make it feel as if you did. Why was everyone bothering you?
“I’m so sorry about that Bucky, I swear I’m never this popular,” you joked.
You sat down and ordered. “Have you been here before?” Bucky shook his head no. “They have the best coffee and the most amazing desserts. You’re gonna love the chocolate croissants.”
You were so excited about the food Bucky felt almost bad. For obvious reasons he could not tell you that he isn’t able to taste anything.
He let you take the lead in the conversations. He loved the way you spoke, you were so passionate about everything, even little things. He screamed at himself internally for every time he previously tried to diminish the beautiful light inside of you.
When asked to talk about himself he chose his words carefully, trying not to reveal any information that would incriminate him as a man out of time (or a demon for that matter).
“So that’s how you lost your arm? The war?” you inquired.
With a heavy sigh Bucky replied, “Yeah but I really don’t want to talk about it.”
You reached out to touch his flesh hand to console him, “I understand Bucky. My cousin was in Afghanistan, he doesn’t like to talk about it either.” Bucky thanked you as he sipped the tasteless liquid.
The conversation continued to flow and Bucky enjoyed every moment he spent with you. He never wanted to leave, just being with you made him feel almost human again.
Bucky insisted on walking you back to your apartment. You casually strolled next to him with a smile on your face, sensing the way he looked at you when he thought you didn’t notice. Bucky was incredibly handsome and kind, but also mysterious and sad. Maybe that’s what attracted him to you, you’ve always been drawn to those in need.
A young man barreling down the sidewalk on a bicycle nearly misses hitting you, tearing you and Bucky apart as you jumped out of the way with your back up against the gate of a closed shop.
“Are you alright Y/N?” Bucky asked, sensing the concern in his tone.
“What is with people today?” you groaned.
Bucky offered you his hand before pulling it back, realizing it was his metal one. You reached your hand out to him, nodding in acceptance and he delicately laced the cool smooth digits with your warm soft hand. You looked up at him with a reassuring smile as you continued walking.
When you reached the front door of your building you asked for Bucky’s number. He stammered a bit and struggled to make up a legitimate excuse for not having a cell phone.
“I’m old fashioned,” he attempted to reason.
There it was, that feeling of rejection. What a stupid excuse, who doesn’t have a cell phone? You dropped your head, trying to hold back the tears you felt forming. This is the story of your life, falling for a guy way out of your league who will never be interested in you.
“Oh okay it was nice meeting you,” you said quickly, turning on your heel and up the steps.
“Wait!” Bucky followed you. “I want to see you again.”
“Really?” You couldn’t help how desperate you sounded.
“Yes of course Y/N. How about tomorrow? We could go to lunch or dinner or…”
“Dinner,” you chimed in. “Dinner would be great.”
Bucky suggested meeting at your apartment first and you excitedly nodded your head.
“I’ll see you tomorrow Y/N,” he said, taking your hand in his and bringing it up to his soft lips for a kiss. You held your breath, in shock at his reserved but romantic gesture.
“See you tomorrow Bucky,” you beamed, waving once more after you stepped inside the lobby.
You immediately pulled out your phone, texting Keisha about the man you met as you routinely walked to your door. Picking your head up you spotted a figure standing in front of your door, a tall and broad blond man with a stern expression.
“Y/N, we need to talk.”
“Excuse me, do I know you?” you curiously asked the tall stranger who looked at you with stern determination.
“Y/N you need to stay away from that man,” he said with a firm tone up until the last word, as if he wasn’t convinced he was saying it properly. “He’s dangerous.”
“Oh yeah, says the stranger waiting for me outside my apartment,“ you snarked.
The man chuckled as he rubbed the back of his neck, ruffling through his short blond hair.
"You didn’t answer me, who are you?” you snapped back.
“My name is Steve and…” he sighed before staring directly into your eyes, “I’m your guardian angel.”
Chewing on your bottom lip, you gathered your thoughts together before quickly responding, "Okay, time to go!”
Steve tried to reason with you but you were in no mood to hear the ramblings of a delusional man.
“Move, move away from my door please. Just get out of here and I won’t call the cops,” you demanded, waving your phone in hand to show him you were serious.
He backed away from you with his hands up, a gesture of his peaceful retreat as he walked closer to the front door of the building. You eyed him carefully making sure he left before opening the door to your apartment.
Once inside you locked the door, dropped your bag on the ground and let out an exhausted breath. Your encounter with Steve temporarily curtailed the joy you felt about your afternoon with Bucky but you were ready to get back on cloud nine, as you gushed to Keisha with an abundance of heart-eye emojis.
Stepping into your living room you screamed, dropping your phone on the ground. Steve was there, standing with a hesitant smile on his face.
“What the fuck?!” you shouted, thinking it was impossible for him to be in there. You saw him leave, you saw him! There was no way he could have broken in, maybe from the window? No, you would have heard him.
“Y/N please listen to me,” he said taking a step towards you.
You ran into the kitchen, frantically opening drawers to find a weapon as you commanded, “Get out of here Steve, get out now!” Your shaky hand held up a knife as your mind raced for a plan, wishing you hadn’t dropped your phone.
“I’m not going to hurt you Y/N. I told you, I’m your guardian angel.”
“Bullshit,” you spat, rolling your eyes. “Get the fuck out of my…” you trailed off before hearing a small rumbling sound.
Steve closed his eyes as his body began to illuminate with a shining bright glow. With a heavy swoosh suddenly his frame was flanked by thick white feathers. He looked up at you through his long eyelashes, innocently smiling as you stood there covering your mouth in complete shock.
Putting the knife down you slowly walked towards Steve, circling him as you stared up and down at the astonishing sight before you. Massive wings protruded from his shoulder blades, pristine white feathers stood out against the dark contrast of his sweater. Your hand reached out, wanting to touch them but you pulled it back.
“You’re an angel. You’re a fucking angel!” you exclaimed.
“Language!” Steve reprimanded, his head tilted to the side, eyebrows raised up as if he was waiting for an apology.
“Oh, s-sorry. I just… I mean… I don’t know what to say. Angels are real?” you asked.
“Yep, everybody has one and I’m yours. I’ve been watching over you since you came into this world,” he said proudly, his lips curved up as he stared at you.
If what he said was true (and at this point it was unfair to doubt him) you weren’t sure how to react. Steve had a connection with you but it felt like he was a stranger. Your guardian angel? Where was he when you were being bullied in middle school? What did he do when you cried every day comparing yourself to models you would never look like? What did he do just the other day when your self-esteem was shot down at the mall? Nothing. What has your guardian angel done for you anyway?
Sad memories fueled your anger as you snapped, “So where have you been? Where were you when I needed you?!” You fought back tears, lip quivering as you watched his proud smile deflate.
“I’m always with you,” Steve said.
He explained that it was his job to present the positive outlook on life, to steer you away from harmful choices and protect you. You challenged him, as he knew you would, asking why he let you break wear those ridiculous heels that lead to you breaking your foot.
“Angels can’t stop life from happening but Y/N, tell me what you remember about that?” he asked.
“Um the pain! Trying to get a broken foot out of my boot was horrible. And the crutches! My arms hurt so much from them,” you whined.
“And do you remember what you thought about every night?”
You paused, recalling how you would set your crutches aside before bed, grateful that you were able to count the days until your cast would come off and you could walk again without assistance; and how so many people out in the world could not say the same.
You let go of the resistance you felt and gave in to the fact that Steve was the voice that kept you humble in that situation and he’s probably had a lot more influence throughout your life than you ever would have imagined.
“I know all about the war you fight within yourself Y/N, but you’re still fighting, right? You’re still here.”
You thought about everything. Perhaps he was right. No matter how bad you felt, how dark your mind went you never gave in to the negative thoughts. Was it hard to see the light of the new day? Absolutely. But it was there, and maybe Steve was the little voice in the back of your head encouraging you to go on.
Leaning against the back of your couch you exhaled a heavy breath, “This is a lot to take in,” you admitted.
“Normally you wouldn’t have to. Angels are usually behind the scenes but there’s been a lot of chatter lately. Something big is happening in Hell, so when I saw that demon with you I had to reveal myself.”
You had brushed off his earlier claim about Bucky being dangerous, chalking it up to the lunacy of a random stranger but now you had doubts. Steve wouldn’t lie, would he? Could angels lie? It would explain Bucky’s lack of a phone but no, it can’t be. Bucky was so shy and sweet. He couldn’t be a demon. Could he?
“How do you know Bucky’s a… a demon?” You couldn’t help your defiant questioning.
“As an angel I can see many things. When I look at you I can see through to the light of your soul,” he said.
Your arms shrugged in front of your chest, feeling weirdly uncomfortable by his statement, as if your arms could block his angelic vision.
“With demons everything is dark. They don’t have souls. They’re just shells, devoid of life and emotion. They thrive on hurting people. That’s what they want Y/N, the suffering of humanity.”
“Steve that doesn’t make sense, Bucky wasn’t like that at all,” you claimed, finding it hard to believe that he could want to hurt you.
“Demons are treacherous, you know the tales. You cannot be fooled by his deception.”
You stared at the floor as an unsettling feeling washed over you, it couldn’t be true, could it?
Steve took a small step closer to you, bending his large frame down to be in your line of sight. “It worries me the demon has made himself known to you. As I said, something big is coming. You need to stay safe, you can’t get wrapped up in this,” Steve finished, with a tight lipped smile.
You frowned as doubts ran through your mind fighting to believe in Steve’s truth. With silent stares you compared Steve to Bucky, though they were roughly the same height that’s where the similarities ended.
Steve was the sun, golden and warm whereas Bucky was the moon, pale and cool. They were angel and demon, the epitome of good and evil; and though Steve was your guardian angel there was palpable distance between you and something about Bucky was drawing you in. There was no sense of malevolence within the sweet and shy man, even the cats liked him.
Looking into Steve’s blue eyes you immediately noticed the difference from Bucky’s. Steve’s eyes were calm and at peace, while Bucky’s were like a raging waterfall, never settled, never still. There was more to Bucky, more than even Steve knew perhaps and with that you found solace in your decision.
Clearing your throat you finally spoke, “I’ll be careful Steve.”
Realizing what you meant he objected, begging you to keep away from Bucky.
“You can’t control my actions, we both know this. There’s something….” you trailed off, knowing that what you felt within was deeper than any angel or demon’s influence. “Please Steve I have to do this.”
Steve frowned, his wings slumped over as well as his feathers dragged along the wood floors of your apartment. He looked so disappointed and you felt sorry; whether you failed him or he failed you it no longer mattered. He promised to still watch over you before he disappeared before your eyes.
After Steve left you responded to Keisha’s texts, asking if she wanted to come over for dinner. You opened a bottle of wine as you waited for the pizza and Keisha to arrive. Merlot was usually too dry for your liking, but knowing it was Keisha’s preference you drank it anyway, especially after the day you had.
You were nearly two glasses down by the time your friend arrived, meeting the delivery person at the door. Keisha felt your warmed cheeks against her skin as you greeted her hello, your overly friendly welcome informed her of your buzz. Despite feeling extra wordy you kept quiet about your encounter with Steve, and did your best to transition the conversation away from Bucky though she wouldn’t let you.
“Come on now Y/N. Tell me more about this guy!” Keisha pleaded, as she pulled at a string of cheese that wouldn’t separate from another slice in the box.
“He’s… I don’t know Kei… can we talk about something else, please?” you whined, claiming you had a more serious question. She hummed in defeat as she chewed her slice, waiting for you to go on.
“Do you believe in angels and demons?” you asked, doing your best to hold your gaze despite your dizzy head.
Keisha eyed you curiously, taking a sip of wine before answering. “Yeah, I mean it’s something I was brought up to believe so I never questioned it.”
“S-so then demons,” you slurred a little, “They’re all bad? No one’s ever changed their mind to fight the good fight?” you half joked, forming fists as you playfully mimed boxing motions.
Keisha shook her head, laughing at what she assumed was your drunken musings. “Look Y/N, I don’t know about demons specifically but I think redemption is possible for anyone. You can’t change someone but believing in them, that’s enough.”
Your mouth hung open as you stared at her as if she was the Goddess of Wisdom, bestowing her knowledge upon you. Keisha laughed again and forced your wobbly body into bed.
In hindsight you should have waited to eat something before having those glasses of wine. All you had earlier was coffee and dessert, with Bucky, the demon. You groaned, shutting your eyes as your heavy head hit the pillow.
Pierce’s voice sounded through Bucky’s head and so he regretfully made his way back to him, putting on the stoic facade of the ruthless soldier Pierce had groomed him to be.
Bucky was silent standing in front of Pierce, clenching his jaw and feeling his nostrils flare as he waited for the demon to speak. Pierce’s mouth pulled into a thin line as he silently sized up Bucky, his smaller stature made him no less intimidating.
A wicked smile spread through his face as blackness took over his eyes. “You’re more twisted than I ever imagined soldier,” he grinned. “When you revealed yourself to Y/N I nearly sent Rumlow for your head but I see your plan.”
Bucky’s eyes followed the man, keeping his expression neutral. He couldn’t give away his feelings for you. Bucky almost stumbled as he felt a slow thumb in his chest, he had feelings for you?
Pierce had continued on, praising the idea of Bucky charming you, capturing your heart and then breaking it. He was overjoyed at the prospect, knowing this would put you over the edge. This is how he would get your soul. Pierce dismissed Bucky with a proud smile.
Rumlow passed Bucky, smirking as he walked towards Pierce. Before leaving for Earth Bucky overhead Rumlow call out, “We found it.”
Nerves were steadily flowing through your veins as you searched your closet for the perfect outfit. Normally, you would spend an enormous amount of time attempting to get dressed. Trying something on, giving yourself a discouraging look in the mirror, whipping it off while trying to curb a panic attack before throwing on something else, only to repeat the process until you’ve given up and accepted the fact that you would just hate yourself.
Today was different; you were excited to try on clothes, piecing together an outfit that you actually felt good in. Dark tights covered your legs but not because you were self conscious of them or the length of the emerald skater dress you wore, instead you thought they would pair best with the short black booties you picked, plus it was getting colder outside.
You rummaged through your closet for a jacket to wear, settling on a leather one. Were you consciously thinking about Bucky’s leather jacket? Maybe.
After fixing your hair and putting on some makeup you stared at yourself in the mirror, you looked good. You felt good. You weren’t without negative thoughts, but today you chose to let them fly out of your mind, not allowing them to linger. Tonight was going to be a good one.
The doorbell buzzed and your heart nearly jumped out of your chest. Your lungs took in calming breaths; you could do this. It was just dinner, dinner with a ridiculously attractive man, errr, demon. Deep breaths.
You decided to withhold the knowledge about Bucky’s identity, wanting to get to know the man you believe is still inside. While locking your apartment you glanced at Bucky through the front door of the building. He was leaning on the railing, innocently looking at something that must have caught his eye above him. Dusk was officially declared as the building’s security light turned on, basking Bucky in a soft angelic glow and you couldn’t help but chuckle. His eyes found yours, both of you nervously smiling as you gave an awkward wave, walking towards him.
The chill of the night touched your skin the moment you opened the door but you shivered for a different reason. Bucky had hesitantly, awkwardly leaned in to hug you, the feeling of his arms around you was comforting.
He pulled back and commented on how beautiful you looked, which added to the fluttering in your stomach. You bit your lip to curb what would otherwise be a dopey grin. Bucky intended on praising you any chance he could to make up for his past actions but he meant every word. Whether you were wearing sweatpants in an alleyway feeding cats or dressed up it didn’t matter, you were stunning no matter what.
Once you were able to control your expressions you smiled, normally, after thanking Bucky and checking him out in the process. He wore all black again, making you question if this was mandatory demon attire; nevertheless he looked good. Under his leather jacket was a black button down shirt covered in a white pattern, possibly polka dots but you would have to get closer to see and you already caught yourself staring for too long.
Clearing your throat you asked if he was ready to leave. Bucky offered you his arm confidently as his metal hand was covered by a leather glove. You smiled proudly, lacing your arm through his as you walked along the chilly streets, casually decided where to eat before settling on a small Italian restaurant.
The restaurant wasn’t full but the lack of affordable space in NYC made the evening more intimate than expected as you and Bucky sat at a table that was barely large enough for two. Somehow the cramped setting eased any tension either of you had and Bucky laughed each time you accidentally kicked his shins while shifting your legs beneath the table.
“I’m so sorry!” you said, shaking your head with embarrassment.
“It’s okay doll, I can take it,” he replied, flashing a quick wink.
You barely paid attention to the slow service as you and Bucky were conversing with ease, first about your day; he listened intently as you told him a funny work related story, and you returned the gesture, not letting on about the truth as Bucky concocted a story about work, speaking in general terms about “the office” and “the boss”.
You changed the subject to alleviate some pressure off him, learning instead each other’s likes and interests. Bucky loved dancing, preferring music of the early 20th century. This made you wonder how long he’s been a demon for. You tried to push those thoughts aside, especially ones about tonight, but they kept popping up in your mind.
Bucky was enjoying his spaghetti and meatball dinner but you wondered if demons actually needed to eat. His choice of a basic entrée then made you question if he was being considerate of the cost, which then led you to wonder how the meal would be paid for since demons don’t get paychecks, right? If anything you’ll just put the bill on your credit card and worry about it later.
Bucky put his utensils down on the empty plate, letting out a satisfied huff. Raising your head you smiled, motioning to alert him of a bit of sauce on his dimpled chin. Redness tinged his cheeks as he wiped it quickly away, flashing a smile as he laughed. His giddiness filled you with warmth.
Your hand wove around the plates of food, wine glasses and a small candle that covered the crowded table, reaching over towards his ungloved hand and letting your fingers intertwine; his cool skin sends a tingling sensation to run down your back. The corner of his mouth pulled up into a content smile, Bucky felt relaxed for the first time in so many years.
You watched the glow of the flame dancing in his eyes as you shared a silent moment of intimacy, letting go of the small doubt in your mind you know Steve had a hand in placing, but Steve was wrong about whatever he saw in Bucky. You didn’t have angelic vision but in your heart you knew there was a spark of light in the man before you.
After sharing cheesecake for dessert the check was placed on the table. You began to rummage through your bag for your wallet but Bucky stopped you, pulling out cash from his pocket. You hoped your expression was neutral and not conveying your momentary worries about how he procured the money. Bucky declined your second offer to pay insisting he has it taken care of.
As you left the restaurant you clung to Bucky’s frame, it was much colder than before and he was more than welcome to wrap his arms around you to keep you warm. It seemed so natural to be connected this way and you didn’t want to let go. The walk back to your apartment was quick thanks to the temperature, making you wonder if Steve had any control of the weather.
When you reached your front door you pulled Bucky inside the warm lobby to say goodnight.
“This is me,” you pointed at your front door, smiling at him. “I had a great time tonight Bucky.”
“Me too Y/N,” he agreed.
“I thought, if you wanted to, maybe you’d like to come over tomorrow after work. Just something casual, no big deal, just hanging out and…” you rambled until Bucky stopped you, saying he would love to.
A wide smile formed on your face, eyes sparkling with delight at the prospect of more time with Bucky. Bucky mimicked your expression, his gaze focusing on the way your tongue slipped out slowly to wet your lips.
“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” you said, looking at him with doe-eyed innocence.
Bucky tilted his head towards you, your breath hitched in your throat, closing your eyes and pursing your lips anticipating a kiss. Your eyes shot open as his cool lips pressed against your warm cheek instead, you groaned internally at your assumption, what were you thinking he’s a demon not cupid, wait, is cupid real?
“Goodnight Bucky,” you said, smiling back at him as you watched him leave, turning his head around to see you once more before walking out of sight.
When entering your apartment you were surprised to find it empty, expecting Steve to be there scolding you or at least prodding for details. Taking your phone with out of your bag you slipped out of your shoes, feeling your feet ache with every step towards your bedroom. Replying to a few texts in between changing into comfortable pajamas you padded barefoot to the bathroom, removing your makeup and brushing your teeth.
Settling into bed you nuzzled your head back into the soft pillows, a dreamy smile on your face as you shut your eyes, Bucky on your mind as you drifted to sleep.
Bucky arrived at your apartment the next evening looking even more handsome than the night before; he was glowing, not in the angelic way Steve was, but you could see happiness shining on his skin. He kissed your cheek, handing you a pastry box, explaining he bought these from the best bakery in Brooklyn, a family owned shop that’s still there after nearly 100 years. You store tidbits of information like that away, clues about Bucky’s life that you want to know more about.
He walks into your apartment gently tilting his head around to check things out, getting a sense of your style and taste. For as long as he’s been in your life this is the first time he’s getting a chance to actually see you, forced by his tunnel vision before with his only goal to amplify the negativity; now he’s able to discover you in an entirely new way.
You offer him a drink and he opts for water, secretly cursing himself internally. Should he have asked for wine or a beer? Is that what people do? Ever since his memories have come back Bucky has been finding it difficult to figure out how to act. With you he is a demon pretending to be a person again, around Pierce the layers of deception only grow.
He wants to forget Pierce, forget the pain and the truth about himself, but that’s easy to do around you. Every moment Bucky spends with you makes him remember his former life, you bring out his humanity.
Sitting together on your soft microfiber couch you hand him a glass of water as you drink some iced tea. Bucky looked towards you, hesitant in wanting to set the glass down on your coffee table, something his mother would forbid without a coaster. You smiled at his nervous demeanor, attempting to ease the tension in the air with a story about the strays.
“It was so funny, Potato was sleeping on top of a box and Midnight just pushed him off! He shrieked and ran off, poor thing. But as soon as I opened a can he came back.”
Bucky bit his lip while smiling as he watched your face light up as you spoke about the cats. He asked a few questions, learning how much you love animals but your building doesn’t allow any, otherwise you would definitely take in those cats.
Bucky opened up, remembering his family had an ill behaved Beagle named Rover. “One time he peed on the sofa. Ma was lucky she had a vinyl slipcover on, that Chesterfield was expensive,” he laughed, absentmindedly running his hands through his hair.
Your legs were curled under you as you shifted closer to Bucky, eager to learn more about the demon who apparently had a family. There is much more to him than perhaps even Steve knew. Bucky continued with a few more stories about Rover, chewing on his father’s slippers and digging up his mother’s petunias. He sighed, staring off in reflection, the memories hurt but when he felt your hand against his arm he smiled once more.
“I don’t know about you but I’m starving. We could order something in or I could attempt to make dinner. Be forewarned I haven’t gone food shopping so…” your hands gestured openly, waiting for his response.
“Whatever you prefer,” Bucky said, smiling back at you.
“Takeout’s probably best, all I have is mac and cheese,” you joked.
Pulling up your phone you rattled through a list of options with him, settling on Korean BBQ, something he admitted to never having before. He hesitantly took your phone as you handed it to him, holding it in his gloved hand as he looked at the screen for the menu.
You encouraged him to scroll down the page, moving your finger in an up and down swiping motion before he got the hint of what to do. Swallowing an awkward gulp Bucky attempted to joke about how far technology has come, hoping you wouldn’t comment on his obvious lack of knowledge in the subject, which of course you didn’t.
After ordering your food you cracked a window to let fresh air into the warm apartment, turning on the TV, mainly for background noise as you sat down again, continuing to get to know each other. When the doorbell buzzed, Bucky pulled out more cash from his pants but you grabbed your wallet, assuring him you had it covered.
Bucky moved to the small bar-height table you had in the kitchen, which baffled you for a moment. All of your meals were eaten on the couch, the table serving mainly as a place for scattered bills. Clearing away the clutter you sat on the stool next to him, your mouth watering at the amazing scents coming from the containers.
The steam of the food hit your face as you leaned over the dish causing you to adjust your hair, allowing the cool breeze to hit your neck. You glanced over at Bucky, watching his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed gulps of water, placing the glass back down on the table.
“You can take that off you know,” you said, nudging your chin as you motioned to his leather glove. His lips pressed together into a thin line.
“It’s okay Bucky,” smiling once more to reassure him, “I’m not afraid.”
He stared at his gloved hand, the metal that was forced on to him by Rumlow. Pierce could have healed him, restored his lost appendage but instead he left him with this, the constant reminder of torture and pain, and most of all that he was controlled.
“I’d rather not,” he replied sadly, “I don’t really like looking at it.”
You apologized, hoping you hadn’t hurt his feelings, asking instead how he liked his Bulgogi. Bucky responded praising the dish, claiming it was not as spicy as you believed it to be, though he was lying. He was able to smell the aromatic dish and it probably tasted great but as each forkful entered his mouth the bland pieces of food passed over his defunct taste buds, and all he could do was try and recall old memories.
He consumed food as a facade, feeling physically heavier afterwards before the sensation dissipated. He wasn’t quite living, not quite dead either. He reminded himself to ask where the bathroom was, to keep up appearances
After eating you sat together on the couch again, casually digging for more information about Bucky. He told opened up more than you expected, learning that he grew up in Brooklyn, and had a younger sister named Rebecca.
“Are you hungry?” Bucky excitedly asked, eager to open the bakery box.
Though you were still digesting you didn’t want to disappoint him, especially after how excited he was. Calling him back to the living room with the box you assured him eating in the living room was okay. The sweet scent filled the room the moment he opened the box and your mouth watered at the sight of delicious Italian cookies. There was a mix of rainbow cookies, cookies with pignoli nuts, jelly sandwiched between two cookies and dipped with chocolate and sprinkles. You grabbed one with blue sprinkles and moaned as you took a bite of the buttery cookie.
“Mmmmm, this is so good,” you said, covering your mouth as you chewed.
“I’m glad you like it Y/N,” Bucky replied.
You relaxed against him occasionally rubbing your hand along his arm, as he told you stories about visiting the bakery with his family, and how the owner would give him and Rebecca a cookie if they were well behaved. You found yourself getting lost in the blue of his eyes, sighing heavily as he spoke, noting his sharp jawline and the perfect way stubble peppered his face. Bucky loved feeling you next to him, your presence calmed him, taking away all of his fear; he’s never been to Heaven but he’s sure this is what is feels like.
Shortly after you glanced at the time, realizing it was pretty late and you still needed to shower. “Do you want to do this again tomorrow?” you asked, hoping the desperation in your voice was not so obvious.
“I would love that,” he replied.
Walking Bucky to the door he turned to say goodbye, leaning in as lips gently grazed your cheek, placing a kiss to your skin. The tip of your nose dragged along his skin until your head tilted into position and your lips pressed against his. The kiss was slow and sweet, his soft lips against yours molding together as if they were made for each other. You whimpered slightly as he pulled away, leaving you wanting more. That was just cruel, maybe he was a demon.
The routine you had with Bucky continued over the next few days. One day he surprised, pulling out cell phone. You exchanged numbers, trying again not to question how he got the phone hoping this would make keeping in touch more normal. You experimented in texting him, writing how much you were looking forward to seeing him later, and he replied with equal enthusiasm.
Bucky would come over each night with a different gift, not wanting to show up empty handed. He wanted to bring you flowers but they had a tendency to die under his touch. Instead he brought wine, chocolates, and even a basket of treats for the cats, joining you to feed them.
Some days you ordered in, others you cooked. What you ate never mattered, as long as you were together. Gradually you got to know more about each other, learning Bucky was his nickname, and his real name was James Barnes.
You searched Google endlessly to try to find any information on him but it was difficult. Finally you found something, the Facebook page of Scott Barnes-Proctor with pictures of family at his 40th birthday party including his father James Barnes-Proctor, an elderly man of about seventy-something.
A little more research and you discovered his parents Harold Proctor and Rebecca Barnes. Rebecca went into nursing after World War II, and before her death in 2006 she published several articles about veterans, mental health and PTSD. You found one of them, shocked to learn about her brother James “Bucky” Barnes’ suicide after he returned from war.
The pit in your stomach sunk you to the floor, your vision became blurred as you shed tears for Bucky. It was a weird feeling, you felt stupid, silly almost, crying for the suicide of a man you were going to have dinner with in an hour. It didn’t make any sense but lately you’ve learned not to question things.
Wiping your eyes you put your phone away, before returning Keisha’s texts. She was eager to meet Bucky but for now you kept her at bay, stating you wanted him all to yourself. The truth was you wanted Bucky to open to you, you wanted the truth but you didn’t want to push him.
You continued making dinner, placing the marinated salmon fillets in the oven when Bucky rang the bell. You buzzed him in and went to the door. Opening it he stood there, hands gripping a small brown teddy bear. He moved the bear’s arm to wave hello to you and squeaked out a greeting in a high pitched voice. You burst out into laughter along with some tears at his sweet gesture.
Bucky was at your side instantly, “Is everything okay Y/N?” concern laced through every word.
Wiping your cheeks you smiled, reassuring him that you were fine.
His hands cupped your cheeks, the cool leather on one side and tepid flesh on the other. “It’s okay if you’re not fine,” he said, “Don’t… don’t let the bad thoughts stay in your mind okay. You’re better than them.”
Bucky hoped his reassuring words were helpful. He didn’t know what upset you and he no longer wanted to pry into your thoughts. He had done enough damage in your life, he wanted to make amends for it now.
Your hands held his as you thanked him again, promising you were okay, taking the bear and placing it on the kitchen counter to watch over you as you begin to sauté vegetables.
After dinner you found yourselves cuddled up on the couch, you had gotten progressively closer during the past week. Your face nuzzled into Bucky’s neck as he rubbed circles onto your back.
“Hey Bucky,” the breath of your tired voice tickled his neck as you spoke. He responded with an audible hum and you continued, “You don’t have to hide yourself around me.”
Bucky’s eyes shot open with worry wondering what you meant. He looked at his gloved hand moving lazily on your skin and assumed you were referring to his metal hand. You had to be.
“I do have something to tell you,” he began. You shifted yourself to face him, laying on top of him, chests pressed together. “I really like spending time with you,” he admitted, his lips forming a wide smile.
“Me too,” you replied, pressing a chaste kiss to his lips before resting your head back against his chest.
Your eyes began to close, breaths slowing down as Bucky’s warm arms held you tight. When he realized you were asleep Bucky shifted positions, careful not to wake you. Lifting you into his arms Bucky placed you into bed, smiling as you comfortably sank into the mattress. He pulled the covers on top of you and pushed stray hairs off your face.
Pressing his lips to your forehead, he whispered goodnight in your ear. Bucky watched you in the doorway for a few moments, smiling at your sleeping form before discomfort racked his body. He grabbed his chest feeling an aching pang. Bucky’s mouth opened in shock, his heart let out a rigid thump for the first time in decades.